There’s just no other way to put this. Chromecast, Google’s new Apple TV competitor is a transportable dongle-like Wi-Fi gadget, a $35 USB flash-sized plugin device that lets you stream web video from your iPhone, iPad, or Android-OS device to a connected TV.
Setup seems as simple as Apple TV, too. Plug Chromecast into any HDTV, connect it to Wi-Fi, then send web videos from a smartphone, tablet, or notebook to the TV, somewhat similar to Apple’s AirPlay, but not as useful. AirPlay is much cooler.
On the surface, though, this is a clever, inexpensive way for Google to get back into the living room after the disaster of Google TV. Unlike Apple TV, there’s no remote control device to worry about. Controls are in an app on your mobile device. Google’s apps, including YouTube, will recognize the Chromecast device and display a one-touch or click button to send web video on your smartphone or tablet screen straight to the TV.
Has Google figured out something that Apple figured out about TV a few years ago?
Instead of the complex, messy, and anemic Google TV, Google has gone back to simplicity with Chromecast. Apple TV costs $99. Google’s Chromecast costs $35. It’s elegant, simple, and priced low, and while it may not do quite as much as Apple TV Google is smart to make it work on iPhone and iPad, too.
One thing Chromecast does not do on iOS devices is mirror whatever is displayed on the iPhone or iPad to the TV screen, though I suspect that functionality will show up on upcoming Android OS devices.
I want to try one. And $35 is throwaway money. Apple, your move.